“I never dreamed we would have our own home again,” says Vadivaperumal Letchumi, putting the finishing touches to her new house, built with support of Caritas Sri Lanka.
The 42-year-old widow lives in the north east of the country with her two children. It’s a region emerging from a three decade long civil war that ended in 2009. Her previous home was destroyed in that conflict and her family had to flee the fighting.
Three years later, she is back and is looking forward to a more secure life with her son and daughter. The family is poor and some days can be tough, but she believes things are improving.“We’re at last living without fear,” said Vadivaperumal. “My daughter can finally go outside to play without me worrying.”
As she and her daughter prepare the evening meal, her 18-year-old son returns home from his work as a fisherman. Her husband did not […]
In early 2009, the 25-year-old conflict between the Tamil rebels and the government of Sri Lanka reached a bloody end. Up to 250,000 people were trapped between the two sides in the final stages of the war.
Caritas was one of the few aid agencies given permission to work in the combat zone throughout the fighting. Caritas Sri Lanka (SEDEC) staff remained alongside the people, enduring months of daily shelling and hardship. Now the fighting is over, Caritas is working with the affected population to provide aid, but is also building greater understanding between the country’s people.
“Children are victims of this absurd, monstrous ethnic war.We should not divide them,” said Caritas Sri Lanka staff. In October, Caritas organised a celebration of the Deepavali festival of lights for Hindu and Christian former child soldiers in a state-run rehabilitation centre.
A crowd of 200 people including Buddhist soldiers, and Hindu and Christian children […]
As Caritas Sri Lanka prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary in December, one theme runs through the festivities and its work over the past few decades: empowerment.
Bringing an end to an ongoing civil war and rebuilding lives after the tsunami are just two of the challenges facing the people of Sri Lanka. They are also areas in which Caritas Sri Lanka are hard at work.
“We’ve built almost over 8,900 houses under our Tsunami Project,” says Fr Damien Fernando, Caritas Sri Lanka National Director.
Keys to new houses were handed over as part of the ongoing 40th anniversary celebrations earlier this year. Caritas Sri Lanka aims to build 10,500 by March 2009.
He says some people in the north of the island have had a tough time and desperately need homes as first they were displaced by war, then they had to move again when the tsunami hit, and then war uprooted […]
Caritas says innocent civilians are dying in Sri Lanka due to indiscriminate bombing by both the army and rebels with thousands more wounded and suffering.
Caritas says the country is facing a humanitarian crisis with at least 250,000 people trapped in the conflict zone in Vanni in the northeast as government forces battle Tamil rebels (LTTE).
Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of 162 Catholic aid agencies, works through its national member Caritas Sri Lanka running humanitarian programmes
In a statement, Caritas Sri Lanka said the violence is reaching its peak and the chances for a political solution are fading. It says civilians do not have access to security, with safe havens for people who have been forced from their homes providing inadequate protection.
Caritas Sri Lanka says camps for screening people who have fled the violence also are perceived to be unsafe and is calling for greater transparency in how the camps are run.
Caritas is urging all sides in Sri Lanka’s civil war to end their hostilities immediately to prevent further loss of lives to children and other innocent civilians.
The 25-year old conflict has reached a peak in the last year with between 70,000 and 250,000 people displaced in last remaining pocket of fighting in Vanni.
Caritas is working through its national partner Caritas Sri Lanka to provide urgently needed humanitarian aid.
Background on Sri Lanka’s conflict
An unimaginable situation
Tens of thousands of innocent people are trapped in the war zone.
No proper medical facilities for the wounded
Forced recruitment of children to fight
Little food or clean water
Caritas has launched an urgent appeal to help victims of the war with food, medical treatment, education, and counseling. Caritas will support 100,000 war victims, those made homeless by the fighting, returnees and war affected families, especially women and children.
Caritas will provide
Basic medicines for 1200 patients
Cooked meals for 10,000 […]
Among the many things that people may lose in a war, such as their homes and clothes, there’s also the chance that family members will disappear into the chaos.
Tens of thousands of people have been cornered into a rebel-held small strip of land by fighting in northern Sri Lanka.
Even though almost 190,000 have managed to escape into safer zones, the sheer numbers and logistical difficulties present a serious challenge to families trying to stay together.
“People initially go into transit camps,” says Fr Damien Fernando. Director of Caritas Sri Lanka. “But sometimes they get separated from their families in the course of the transfer from these camps to the longer-term welfare camps.”
Caritas has lobbied government officials to focus on the reunification of families and has set up meeting points in camps for families. Fr Fernando says up to 1,300 have been reunited so far.
Caritas has also focused on helping elderly […]
Close to a quarter of a million men, women and children have arrived in camps in the north of Sri Lanka. They’ve fled months of heavy fighting between government and rebel forces, endured a lack of food and medicine, and witnessed unimaginable suffering.
Caritas is one of the few international aid agencies with access into the camps, where its staff provide hot meals, medical assistance, and counseling. These are stories of ordinary people now living in the camps. All names have been changed to protect identities.
“I lived a fairly comfortable life in Puthukkudiyiruppu (PTK),” said Ganeshan, a 62 year-old farmer. Ganeshan lived with his family on ten acres of paddy and four of coconut. “My farm income was more than enough to meet my family needs,” he said.
“The fighting came closer and closer to our house and in January our house was damaged by shell fire…there was no way we […]
The monsoon season will be arriving in Sri Lanka shortly. No one knows how powerful the winds and rains will be, but one thing is certain – it’s best to not be living in a tent when they arrive.
Tens of thousands of people are still living in temporary shelters following the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in May last year and over 350,000 people are without homes in general.
“About 60-70,000 people are still in camps,” says Fr George Sigamoney, director of Caritas Sri Lanka, on a visit to Caritas Internationalis in Rome. “They haven’t gone back home because their lands haven’t been cleared of landmines.”
“People who are getting back to their lands sometimes still don’t have proper shelter, just a covering and poles – and it’s not easy to put up a house with that,” he says.
People who are being resettled are mainly in the north, where the […]